Placing your child for adoption no matter what the reason, can be a difficult decision that often comes with both emotional and psychological aftereffects. There can be a feeling of guilt, of losing out on seeing your child grow up, of regret, of wondering if you made the right decision. And yes, there is also birth mother grief. Knowing that all these feelings and emotions can come up during and after, allows us the ability to counsel and make sure we are providing the best possible care for you.
Grief can manifest itself in several ways. A feeling of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, a lack of interest in social activities, or anxiety. Combined with hormones, emotions, and a feeling of loss, grief can be experienced at any time after birth and especially after placing your baby up for adoption.
Even though you will have some positive feelings about your final decision—the feeling of comfort and gratitude that the adoptive family you chose will be great parents and your child will be safe, the knowledge that your baby will be well taken care of and given opportunities that you may not be able to provide right now—there is still a feeling of loss. And loss quickly turns into grief.
The feeling of grief when putting a child up for adoption, is a completely normal reaction to loss. In fact, the stages of grief from other kinds of losses coincide almost exactly with what you might be feeling now as well.
According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist who was an expert on loss and grief, and who created the Kubler-Ross model, “there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. These stages,” she noted, “are our attempts to process change and to protect ourselves while we adapt to a new reality.”
- Denial shields you from the pain of loss.
- Anger can be directed at those who facilitated the adoption placement or even at
yourself for getting pregnant in the first place. Anger towards the birth father for
not being there to support you and the baby.
- Bargaining is when you know that your child is safe and that you chose a great
family, but you still feel sad or angry.
- Depression follows as the sense of loss overwhelms you making it hard to
- Acceptance allows you to work through all your feelings, to accept your decision,
to feel good about giving your child a better future, and to find a way to work hard
to better your own future and achievements. Acceptance integrates your loss
into your psyche. It’s still there, but it doesn’t have control over you.
Getting through these five stages takes time. You are “allowed” to feel the many different emotions. You are “allowed” to take as much time as you need to process each stage thoroughly until you move onto the next stage. You are encouraged to share your feelings with a counselor or in a group setting. Whatever it takes.
At Heartfelt Adoptions of Tampa, we provide counseling before and after you give birth. We also offer financial assistance to assist you with practical needs, such as rent, food, clothing, phone, utilities etc. This assistance is provided through your pregnancy and up to 6-weeks post-partum.
Because we are a local community-based adoption agency, we also provide full support services, such as access to mental health support groups, adoption-related libraries, mental health referrals, and more. Adoption or birth mother grief is real. Our caring and experienced staff can help get you through whatever you’re going through. We can hold your hand and lead you forward so that you can cope with your feelings in a positive way.
And if you have moments of feeling sad (which you will), just think about the reasons why you chose adoption for your baby in the first place. Whatever the reason, you made this decision because you knew in your heart that it was best for you and your child.
Every adoption experience is unique. And everyone deals with it differently. Our goal is to support the birth mother with whatever she’s feeling, to support her, to encourage her, to counsel her, and to give her hope for the future.